In Ambrose Bierce's Devil's Dictionary the following definition of RABBLE is offered: "In a republic, those who exercise supreme authority tempered by fraudulent elections." He also stated: "The rabble is like the sacred Simurgh, of Arabian fable - omnipotent on condition that it do nothing."
An observer of post-Soviet politics might propose the following addendum: "In a 'former' communist state, those who exercise supreme authority tempered by fraudulent elections and fraudulent revolutions."
Historically ineffectual, large masses of people have little initiative of their own. Exceptions to the rule exist, of course, like the overthrow of the Tsar by hungry mobs and disheartened troops in March 1917. In that case military defeat, food shortages and government arrogance enraged the populace. But this same populace had been powerless against monarchy for centuries. In fact, following the Bolshevik coup of October 1917, the Russian people remained helpless through seven decades of Communist oppression. Even the 1989 collapse of Communism - in Poland and Czechoslovakia, Romania and Hungary - was largely a mythical wish fulfillment staged by Communist-controlled structures. Those who best understand the thwarting of the August 1991 Moscow coup understand that the subsequent fall of the Soviet Union did not establish popular omnipotence in Russia or Ukraine or Central Asia or the Caucasus, but served to hoodwink naïve Western observers who poured billions into Russia. And so the hoodwinking continues. The "former" Soviet republics, including the "former" satellite countries, are still in the grip of the same bureaucrat/mafia. In accordance with its nature, this mafia has sent its spores west through Germany, Belgium, Holland, France and America. Meanwhile, Russia and Ukraine were never real democracies; so the crisis over fraudulent elections in Ukraine should come as no surprise.
So what, then, is going on in Ukraine? Why has the deception faltered? Who has organized these mass demonstrations against the government? In neighboring Russia we read Pravda's Nov. 25 headline: "Ukraine crisis: A Western circus with Yushchenko, the clown."
Officially, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych won the Ukrainian presidential election. On the other side, the pro-Western candidate - Viktor Yushchenko - says he won the election. Some Western observers say that electoral fraud is indicated and Yushchenko should be installed as president. According to Pravda, "It is not the business of Washington or London or Ottawa to decide whether they accept the election results in the Ukraine. It is for the sovereign Ukrainian institutions to solve the process...."
Britain and America stand accused of influencing the situation in Russia's largest "satellite." A challenge has gone forth from Moscow. It is the same challenge broadcast before the Baltic States were admitted into NATO. It has the character of a deceptive threat, a double dare that lures an opponent to do what you wanted him to do all along.
Yes, the Ukrainian elections were probably fraudulent. And so were the recent elections in Russia. In fact, fraud is characteristic of the electoral process in nearly every former Soviet Republic. But there is more than fraud involved. Each instance of fraud entails a risk of discovery, and requires a backup plan.
Last year an old Soviet functionary, President Eduard Shevardnadze, was fraudulently reelected in the Georgian Republic. Shevardnadze was subsequently forced out by angry demonstrations organized by Mikhail Saakashvili (a graduate of Kiev State University)." The giveaway is that Saakashvili was subsequently elected to the Georgian presidency by a majority of 97 percent. Western observers didn't think twice about this outcome, since Saakashvili sold himself as a Euro-friendly, English-speaking boy wonder. In reality, Saakashvili's democratic credentials are equivocal. He joined Shevardnadze's party in 1995, entering the former communist boss's inner circle. Five years later Saakashvili became Shevardnadze's Minister for Justice. On Sept. 5, 2001, Saakashvili resigned his post to lead a left-of-center opposition party, the United National Movement (UNM). Described by critics as a "power-hungry demagogue," Saakashvili's affection for Shevardnadze was unconcealed after the latter's abdication. That is to say, there was no revolution in Georgia - "velvet" or otherwise. It was merely a transition from an old apparatchik to a younger apparatchik, widening the gateway to Western trade and NATO or EU membership.
Although we cannot be certain, this same process is probably unfolding in Ukraine: with large benefits accruing to Putin from wounded Russian pride, as well as renewed legitimacy for Ukraine's neo-Stalinist pariah regime - a regime in search of NATO membership, high tech imports, Western investment capital and other goodies.
In this process, it is entirely possible that the good and well-meaning people of the Ukraine are dupes. (Lenin preferred the term "useful idiots.") One might say, in this post-Soviet era, that we are all useful idiots now - from east to west. The old KGB structures, the house that Felix Dzerzhinsky built, is still at work in all former Soviet countries; and let us not forget, as well, the old Soviet practice of infiltrating and controlling the opposition. "People power," so-called, is equivocal. Soren Kierkegaard once wrote that "the public" is an unreal abstraction; only the individual is real. There is a similar notion in political science concerning organized minorities. The public organizes nothing. In fact, the public itself is ever the target of professional organizers. So which professionals set the Ukraine crisis in motion? Was it a genuinely independent, liberal and pro-Western minority of professional agitators? Or was the crisis organized by the more experienced KGB structures that have dominated Ukrainian politics for the last eight decades?
On one side we have Viktor Yanukovych, who is openly and unashamedly pro-Russian. On the other side we find Viktor Yushchenko, who appears to be anti-Russia. Here we find a battle with two Viktors. As such it offers us a play on words, all the more ironic as it appeals to the Kremlin's sense of humor. In evaluating this situation we should not be taken in by the rabid invective of Pravda, which states: "The strong-arm tactics used by the Western stooge, Yushchenko, are typical of the anti-democratic processes set in motion by a rampant and militant Washington, crushed in the grip of a ... neo-conservative crypto-fascist clique of elitists ... whose thirst to dominate the world's resources ... throws any moral concept into the trash bin."
The Ukrainian provocation, if it is a provocation, sweetens the sauce that flavors the American goose. And if that goose should be cooked, who would eat of it? What chief powers would benefit from the follow-on feast? The answer should be obvious, since there is only one country - besides America - armed with thousands of nuclear bombs. Regarding this "elephant in the room" the anti-American blockheads, animated by resentment, bolstering the ranks of the far right and left, say nothing. As "useful idiots" of the first rank they do not grasp their role as dumplings in the same goose-sauce, taken in (as they are) by a neo-communist propaganda ambiguously framed behind a veiled anti-Semitism, typifying the Red-Brown convergence of yet another pre-war era. Here is a mode of political expression framed to advance socialism, appease the Islamic world, gratify the underdeveloped countries, rally Russia behind Putin and neutralize Europe.
The Ukraine crisis is not about American imperialism. It is about Moscow's post-Soviet deception strategy, involving controlled opposition and fake liberalism. To understand the situation in Ukraine we must ask the question: Who is Viktor Yushchenko? Is he a "Western stooge" or CIA agent? Whatever else he might be, he was a high government official appointed by former Soviet functionaries, approved by Ukraine's neo-communist elite. Once upon a time he was Ukraine's prime minister, set to become President Leonid Kuchma's successor. And today he stands, ready for office, ready to lead his country into the EU, into NATO and billions of dollars in subsidies. He has been portrayed as the West's man, and the West naively believes in him.
The other day I was sent a copy of a "Letter From a Russian Friend," written by Aleksandr Lazarevitch. I cannot verify the authenticity of the translation, or its source, but the contents are nonetheless worth considering. "My dear Ukrainian and American friends," it begins. "I am very happy that you have turned to me for my thoughts and advice concerning the developing situation in Ukraine. I feel I should warn Ukrainians and Americans of certain possibilities that probably have not occurred to normal people who are not very familiar with the USSR's and the Russian Federation's secret warfare capabilities."
Moscow's security services have long specialized in agent recruitment, blackmail, psychological manipulation and deception. It would be strange if these capabilities did not figure into the Ukrainian situation. In 1984, KGB defector Anatoliy Golitsyn wrote a book titled New Lies for Old. According to Golitsyn, "there can be no reasonable doubt that the dissident movement as a whole is a KGB-controlled false opposition movement analogous to the Trust [in the 1920s] and that many of its leading members are active and willing collaborators with the Central Committee and the KGB." The creation of a controlled opposition movement within the Soviet Empire served to channel genuine opposition, and as a vehicle for the false liberalization and democratization we see today. The fact that a KGB functionary holds the presidency of Russia is no accident. It is a remarkable achievement, demonstrating the durability of "the organs." The totalitarian trick of the moment is simple: Put your own agents in charge of your opposition and the process of reform is your process. You may call it democracy - under Yeltsin or Putin, under Shevardnadze or Saakashvili, under Yanukovych or Yushchenko - but it's the same old bureaucratic mafia as before.